Two weeks have passed since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers in broad daylight. His murder unleashed an unprecedented wave of protests across the United States, which have tapped into centuries-old grievances against a state built on genocide and slavery, processes which shape the reality in the country today.
People on the streets are demanding that the officers responsible for the murder of George Floyd be charged and sentenced with first-degree murder. As of now, Derek Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and the other three officers only with aiding and abetting it. They are also demanding that the officers and racist vigilantes responsible for the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and the hundreds of other Black, Latino, Native American and working-class people who have been murdered by the police, be brought to justice.
Calls have also been made to defund and abolish the police and reallocate funds to address the pressing needs of people in the US such as access to public education, health and housing, in addition to other structural demands which seek to address institutionalized racism in the country.
In response, there has been a heavy and violent crackdown by police and National Guard. Images have circulated across social media of police brutalizing protesters of all ages, journalists and passersby with tear gas, baton charges and violent arrests.
The images of this uprising, as well as those of the tragic murder of Floyd, have moved people from across the world as the issues being raised are not unique to the US. Many people have organized mobilizations in solidarity but also to bring the issue home in their own contexts and make it clear that the virus of racism is a major issue to be confronted across the world.
Below is a round-up of some of the highlights of the international protests to declare #BlackLivesMatter.
In Brazil, the murder of George Floyd hit home. It occurred just a week after Federal Police in Rio de Janeiro murdered 14-year-old João Pedro Mattos Pinto when he was playing in the yard outside his house. In 2019, the police in the US killed 1,098 people. In Rio de Janeiro alone, 1,814 were killed by police that year. In the first four months of 2020, 606 people were killed. Black people make up 88% of those killed by police in Rio. Activists in the country refer to these killings as the genocide of Black youth.
The outcry against police brutality has also coincided with growing authoritarianism of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and sharp criticisms against his poor handling of the COVID-19 pandemic which has already cost over 36,000 lives in Brazil. Mobilizations to defend democracy and to denounce the killing of Black people at home and in the US have been held in cities across the country.
In Colombia, movements and organizations gathered on June 3 outside the US embassy to show their support to the uprising in the US and to denounce racism and police violence in Colombia. On May 22, Colombian police in the Cauca department assassinated 24-year-old Anderson Arboleda for allegedly violating quarantine. Protesters also remembered Dilan Cruz who was killed by police in November in Bogotá during the wave of protests in Colombia, as well as the countless other victims of police brutality. They also took the opportunity to reject the arrival of US troops to the country.
#BlackLivesMatter | Manifestantes denunciaron también el racismo y la brutalidad policial en Colombia, que a la fecha ha dejado personas asesinadas y heridas, a causa de criminalizar la protesta social
📸Luis Carlos Ayala para Colombia Informa pic.twitter.com/ejBJwiRoEM
— Colombia Informa (@Col_Informa) June 4, 2020
Several social movements and organizations in Venezuela that are part of the Social Movements of ALBA Venezuela chapter have signed on to a statement to express their solidarity with the protesters of the streets in the US. They have also pointed out the hypocrisy of institutions like the Organization of American States (OAS) who have remained silent on the gross human rights violations committed by the police against protesters in the past two weeks but are quick to weaponize the human rights discourse when it is against Cuba or Venezuela.
Venezuelan government officials such as president Nicolás Maduro and foreign minister Jorge Arreaza have also denounced the murder of George Floyd and others and the violent crackdown on protesters. They also pointed out that even amid the protests and health crisis, the US still insists on attacking Venezuela in order to distract from its own challenges.
Organizations and movements across the African continent have also been vocal in voicing solidarity with protesters in the US and against the anti-Black racism in the country.
Abahlali baseMjondolo, a Shack-dwellers movement fighting for land, dignity and housing in South Africa, released a moving statement highlighting the international aspect of this struggle: “The struggle against racism is a global struggle. If you are an impoverished black person in South Africa or Brazil your life counts for nothing to the state, or to most of the rest of the society. From South Africa to Brazil, our leaders are assassinated with impunity when we organize to build our own spaces to think for ourselves, to decide for ourselves and to build our own power from below. The comrades in South Africa, Brazil, England, Palestine, Turkey, India, Ireland and around the world are all in solidarity with the comrades in the streets of the cities across America.”
The Socialist Revolutionary Workers’ Party and the Movement for Justice in Africa also released statements.
Protests have been erupting in cities across Europe, oftentimes in defiance of lockdown regulations which prohibit large gatherings. The mobilizations have been in solidarity with the US protests and to demand an end to racism in their own countries.
In the UK, mass mobilizations were held in London and other cities. In a mobilization in Bristol, protesters tore down a statue of Edward Colston who was a slave trader. Residents in Bristol had campaigned for years prior for the statue’s removal but were not able to get it pulled down.
— Novara Media (@novaramedia) June 8, 2020
In Greece, people took the streets in Athens in large numbers to demand justice for George Floyd.
In France massive protests were held in Paris which linked the murder of George Floyd to the case of Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old French Malian man who was killed in police custody in 2016. A reported 23,000 people mobilized in cities across France including Lyon, Lille, Bordeaux and Metz against police brutality and systemic racism.
Protesters chant “JUSTICE” while the sister of Adama Traoré walks through the crowds.
— Charles Villa (@charlesvillaa) June 2, 2020
In Spain, a protest was organized by the Black, African and Afro-descendant Community of Spain (CNAAE) in Murcia. CNAAE also released a communique condemning the murder of Floyd and linking the condition of Black, African and Afro-descendant people in Spain to the condition of Black people living in the US. Additionally the Communist Party of Spain released a statement in solidarity.
Protest outside the US embassy in Armenia
In Berlin, Germany people also gathered in solidarity, though the massive protest was met with heavy repression.
Protests were also registered in cities across Ireland, in Murcia, Spain, and several other cities.
Across Palestine, a series of protests have been organized following the murder of 32-year-old Iyad Hallaq. Hallaq, a disabled man, was shot dead by Israeli border police on May 30. Chants of “Palestinians lives matter” reverberated in the protests. Drawing comparisons between the killing of Hallaq and Floyd, protesters have held banners and placards reading ‘Palestinian lives matter’, ‘Black lives matter’, ‘Justice for Eyad’ and ‘Justice for George.
A mural of George Floyd was painted on the Apartheid wall between the West Bank and Israel.